Vast Powers

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman is a constitutional body with vast powers not given to the Secretary of Justice and the ordinary courts. It can investigate on its own, or on complaint by any person, any act or omission of any public official, employee, office, or agency.

More powers given by Congress

And under RA 6770 (effective on November 17, 1989), in the exercise of its primary jurisdiction, it may take over, at any stage, from any investigatory agency of the government the investigation of cases referring to corruption.

It can also direct any public official or employee or any agency to perform any act or duty required by law or to stop, prevent, and correct any abuse or impropriety in the performance of duties.

Review of contracts/transactions

The officer concerned can be directed to furnish the Ombudsman with copies of documents relating to contracts, transactions involving the disbursement or use of public funds or properties.

Expanded powers

Its expanded power to decide administrative cases/penalties is not conceded even to lower courts of limited jurisdiction. The Constitution provides a separate Deputy Ombudsman for the military establishment, in addition to one overall deputy and one Deputy each for Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Large sums involved

The Constitution specifically empowers the Ombudsman to give priority to "complaints involving large sums of money and/or properties."

The cases/complaints against the AFP comptrollers, budget officers, and top generals are deserving of such priorities.

Waiting for evidence

Prosecutors don't just wait for evidence to fall on their tables but help in gathering them to support any charge of graft involving P740 M (as computed by Senator Drilon) or P303 M or larcenies in excess of imagination.

Young US prosecutor

At age 35, Thomas Edmund Dewey was elected district attorney of New York in 1937. He formed a group of young and dedicated lawyers to tackle organized crime like the Mafia.

Dewey had the easy gift of befriending a few policemen and witnesses. …